Noted & Quoted

2016MayWeek of May 23 to May 29

Treating people equally has given way to making all of us ambassadors for our race. This is a classic theme in critical race theory, that people of color carry a burden of representation that white people do not. But foisting the baggage of representation onto white people doesn’t solve that problem. It makes it worse.

White people are being asked—or pushed—to take stock of their whiteness and identify with it more. This is a remarkably bad idea. The last thing our society needs is for white people to feel more tribal. The result of this tribalism will not be a catharsis of white identity, improving equality for non-whites. It will be resentment towards being the only tribe not given the special treatment bestowed by victimhood.

A big part of the reason white Americans have been willing to go along with policies that are prejudicial on their face, such as affirmative action, is that they do not view themselves as a tribe. Given the inequality of resources favoring whites in our society, it is a good thing that white people view themselves as the ones without an accent. Should that change, white privilege (whatever one views that to be) will not be eviscerated—it will be entrenched.

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The interest groups and power centers that surround Secretary Clinton like a praetorian guard—Wall Street, the upper middle class feminists, the African American establishment, the Davoisie, the institutional power of the great foundations and educational bureaucracies, Silicon Valley, Hollywood—have defeated their intellectual and political rivals in their spheres of interest and influence. Supporting her is a massive agglomeration of power, intellect, wealth and talent. Her candidacy is the logical climax of the Baby Boom’s march through the institutions of American life. Even the neoconservatives are enlisting in her campaign.

The American Right for all its earnest efforts has been unable to construct a counter establishment that can compete with the contemporary liberal behemoth. Libertarian nostalgia for the 1920s and 1890s, social conservative nostalgia for the faux-certainties of the 1950s; paleocon isolationism; white nationalism; ‘reformicon’ tweaks to the liberal policy agenda—none of these mutually hostile and contradictory sets of ideas can challenge the Boomer Establishment synthesis. The Clintonian center-Left won the cultural and intellectual battles of its time against both the hard left and the fragmented right. The Clinton candidacy is about inevitability, about the laws of historical and institutional gravity.

Yet though the Boomer Consensus has triumphed in the world of American institutions and ideas, in the eyes of many Americans it has not done all that well in the real world. Foreign policy, financial policy, health policy, support of the middle class, race relations, family life, public education, trade policy, city and state government management, wages: what exactly has the Boomer Consensus accomplished in these fields?

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Clinton stands for the competent management of an unsustainable status quo, like Rahm Emmanuel in Chicago: a pair of safe and steady hands on the wheel as the ship glides slowly toward the reefs. Trump, at least so far as we can infer what a Trump administration would be like, stands for the venting of steam and the striking of satisfying poses.

We can hope that a President Clinton’s instincts for power and self-preservation will make her something better than the earnest custodian of a failing status quo, and we can hope that a President Trump would prove inspired and lucky rather than bumptiously sharp-tongued. But hope is not a plan. The likeliest forecast is that under either candidate, the slow unraveling of the liberal world order and the American domestic system will continue and possibly accelerate. The 2020 election may take place against an even darker background than what we now see; if America’s intellectuals and institutions don’t start raising their games, 2016 could soon start to look like the good old days.

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Week of May 16 to May 22

In the race for the presidency, critics brand as “isolationist” Donald Trump’s curious foreign policy offering of protection rackets, forced wall-financing, debt defaulting, and murderous bombardment... Expanding America’s bombardment of the Islamic State to the families of terrorists is not the equivalent of what Charles Lindbergh and “America First” demanded in the interwar period: that the United States retract itself from security commitments, take refuge behind its ocean moats and naval/air shield, and leave security crises to the Old World. If we are to define Trump’s odd assortment of foreign policy poses, he is a particularly violent, Jacksonian nationalist, looking to shape world order through a kind of imperial terror.

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D’Antonio: But isn’t this sort of consistent with the way the game of politics was played by his father and the politicians and the clubhouse people? It’s like, if I bring you into my web of deception, now you’re a part of it. Now, where do you go for redress? You have no options. You have to stay with me and see it through to the end, because I’ve got you as a partner. You’re now colluding with me.

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Glasser: So it’s a TV show about a book about a guy who was an invented character.

O’Brien: Yes.

Glasser: That’s now led to a campaign based on the TV show based on the book.

O’Brien: About a man who’s saying he’s a politician, who could probably never really deliver on everything he’s saying.

D’Antonio: So it’s all about this autobiography, which isn’t auto, and it isn’t a biography—which is, you know, only in America.

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If Trump came to power, there is a decent chance that the American experiment would be over. This is not a hyperbolic prediction; it is not a hysterical prediction; it is simply a candid reading of what history tells us happens in countries with leaders like Trump. Countries don’t really recover from being taken over by unstable authoritarian nationalists of any political bent, left or right—not by Peróns or Castros or Putins or Francos or Lenins or fill in the blanks. The nation may survive, but the wound to hope and order will never fully heal. Ask Argentinians or Chileans or Venezuelans or Russians or Italians—or Germans. The national psyche never gets over learning that its institutions are that fragile and their ability to resist a dictator that weak. If he can rout the Republican Party in a week by having effectively secured the nomination, ask yourself what Trump could do with the American government if he had a mandate.

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It’s time to accept that we didn’t just lose to Trump’s wing of the party because we deserved to. We lost to them because we needed to. To quote so many on our side these last several months: we needed to burn the whole thing down.

But not out of anger. But for sanctification. Not out of sorrow. But for repentance. Not to hasten death. But to enable rebirth.

So in a weird way, thank you Donald Trump. You may very well have saved conservatism from itself.  I can’t wait to help you succeed by defeating you.

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What these people do not or will not see is that, once in power, Trump will owe them and their party nothing. He will have ridden to power despite the party, catapulted into the White House by a mass following devoted only to him. By then that following will have grown dramatically. Today, less than 5 percent of eligible voters have voted for Trump. But if he wins the election, his legions will comprise a majority of the nation. Imagine the power he would wield then. In addition to all that comes from being the leader of a mass following, he would also have the immense powers of the American presidency at his command: the Justice Department, the FBI, the intelligence services, the military. Who would dare to oppose him then? Certainly not a Republican Party that laid down before him even when he was comparatively weak. And is a man like Trump, with infinitely greater power in his hands, likely to become more humble, more judicious, more generous, less vengeful than he is today, than he has been his whole life? Does vast power un-corrupt?

This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him.

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The supreme irony of the Times’ vacuous coverage is that the early 1990s banquet-hall photograph of the unmarried Rowanne Brewer and Donald Trump illustrating it is the sexiest picture published in the mainstream media in years. Not since Melissa Forde’s brilliant 2012 Instagram portraits of a pensive Rihanna smoking a cigarillo as she lounged half-nude in a fur-trimmed parka next to a fireplace have I seen anything so charismatically sensual.

Small and blurry in the print edition, the Brewer-Trump photo in online digital format positively pops with you-are-there luminosity. Her midnight-blue evening dress opulently cradling her bare shoulders, Rowanne is all flowing, glossy hair, ample, cascading bosom, and radiant, lushly crimson Rita Hayworth smile. The hovering Trump, bedecked with the phallic tongue of a violet Celtic floral tie, is in Viking mode, looking like a triumphant dragon on the thrusting prow of a long boat. “To the victor belong the spoils!” I said to myself in admiration, as seductive images from Babylon to Paris flashed through my mind. Yes, here is all the sizzling glory of hormonal sex differentiation, which the grim commissars of campus gender studies will never wipe out!

Hey, none of this should make Trump president. But I applaud this accidental contribution by the blundering New York Times to the visual archive of modern sex. We’ve been in a long, dry-gulch period of dully politicized sex, which is now sputtering out into round-the-clock crusades for transgender bathrooms—knuckle-rapping morality repackaged as hygiene.

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In a new study, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, compared Europa's potential for producing hydrogen and oxygen with that of Earth, through processes that do not directly involve volcanism. The balance of these two elements is a key indicator of the energy available for life. The study found that the amounts would be comparable in scale; on both worlds, oxygen production is about 10 times higher than hydrogen production.

The work draws attention to the ways that Europa's rocky interior may be much more complex and possibly earthlike than people typically think, according to Steve Vance, a planetary scientist at JPL and lead author of the study. "We're studying an alien ocean using methods developed to understand the movement of energy and nutrients in Earth's own systems. The cycling of oxygen and hydrogen in Europa's ocean will be a major driver for Europa's ocean chemistry and any life there, just as it is on Earth."

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Trump sees spending on the military as efficient and effective in accomplishing national security goals; realists believe that neither is the case. Trump sees combating international terrorism as a profound national interest; many realists argue that it is an overblown issue that is not a true threat to American security. Trump thinks the United States should “defeat terrorists and promote regional stability” in the Middle East when the only key American interest in the region is oil. There are so many logical flaws and errors in Trump’s analysis that it is difficult to pick a representative few.

The temporary marriage of convenience between the Center for the National Interest and Donald Trump is a symptom rather than the disease itself. It is emblematic of a political movement that has not only failed to convince policymakers of its merits, but also failed to build the requisite organizations to garner true influence and train the necessary individuals to become the leaders and policymakers of the future. Many of the failures within the realist movement are of its own making. Failing to diagnose the root cause of the problem will only exacerbate its negative effects. Ditching any and all associations with Donald Trump is only the first step to making realism great again.

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Week of May 9 to May 15

"The only way to [solve this problem] is to bring back the larger objects," NASA scientist Donald Kessler, who has led NASA's Orbital Debris Program Office for nearly 20 years, told The Huffington Post in 2013.

But if we're going to do anything about this problem, then we better do it fast, Kessler said earlier this year.

"We're at what we call a 'critical density' — where there are enough large objects in space that they will collide with one another and create small debris faster than it can be removed," Kessler told Marketplace in September.

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We know from Hittite texts that the Luwian kingdoms sometimes formed coalitions powerful enough to attack the Hittite empire. Zangger thinks that 3200 years ago the Luwians did just that and destroyed the Hittite Empire (see map, above).

Shortly after the demise of the Hittites, Egyptian texts document an attack force they termed the “Sea People”. Zangger says it makes sense to view these Sea People as the Luwians, continuing their campaign for wealth and power and, in the process, weakening and destabilising the Egyptian New Kingdom.

The Mycenaeans, perhaps anticipating an attack on their territory, formed a grand coalition of their own, says Zangger. They sailed across the Aegean and attacked the Luwians, bringing down their civilisation and destroying its key cities like Troy – events immortalised in Homer’s Iliad.

On returning to Greece, however, and in the sudden absence of any other threat, Zangger believes the Mycenaeans squabbled and fell into civil war – events hinted at in Homer’s Odyssey. Their civilisation was the last in the area to collapse.

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On the side of natural explanations, if a recent cataclysmic event in the system created a large cloud of dust responsible for the dimming events Kepler saw, then it’s possible a heat signature will show up at some point in the next couple of years; another team of astronomers is using NASA’s Spitzer infrared space telescope to watch for that possibility.

Boyajian herself is coordinating a worldwide effort of professional telescopes to monitor the star regularly for the next several years, to catch the star in the act. Citizen scientists are still on the case, too: the American Association of Variable Star Observers is tracking brightness measurements of the star made by amateur astronomers. When the star dims again, we will use telescopes around the world to measure how much the star dims at different wavelengths. Since different substances have characteristic absorption patterns, this will tell us the composition of the intervening material. For instance, if it dims much more at ultraviolet wavelengths than in the infrared, we will know dust is to blame. If we see the characteristic pattern of cometary gases, that will help confirm the cometary hypothesis.

And if we see the same brightness changes at all wavelengths? That would indicate that whatever is blocking the starlight is big and opaque—inconsistent with comets, but consistent with the alien megastructure hypothesis.

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As Boyajian herself reminds us in her TED talk, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” and as the dust settles on the Schaefer/Hippke controversy, Boyajian’s star remains the most mysterious star in our galaxy.

From: An Update From the Astronomers Who Proposed the Alien Megastructures - The Atlantic

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I believe a rapprochement with Trump is likely to fail for several reasons. The first is because Trump is far too erratic, too unprincipled, and too indifferent to philosophy to stay tied to the conservative dock, assuming Ryan can move him to that point to begin with. Trump is all over the map all the time.

Mr. Trump may say on Thursday that he’s open and even favorable to, say, reforming Medicare — but no one, and I mean no one, would be shocked if on the following Tuesday he suddenly reversed course and said he opposes it. This is a man, after all, who lives in his own world, makes up his own facts, denies his own previous words, and is an inveterate liar. So even if one could secure a commitment from him, what good is it?

Beyond that, there are collateral costs to embracing Trump, for reasons I’ve laid out many times before. I consider him to be a malicious and malignant figure on the American political landscape — cruel, crude, vindictive, obsessive, narcissistic, a nativist and xenophobe, a man who seems to relish demeaning and dehumanizing others. Mr. Trump has made it as clear as he can that he’s not going to change his approach. “You win the pennant and now you’re in the World Series — you gonna change?” Mr. Trump recently said. “People like the way I’m doing.”

Source: Why the Ryan/Trump Thaw Will Fail | commentary

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I would scarcely doubt evidence showing that the Trump campaign was a controlled experiment in what makes GOP voters tick. The remnants of the Tea Party, the biblically literate Evangelicals, the remaining adherents to the old Reagan coalition: They went for Cruz. The well-heeled suburban “moderates” (staunch conservatives by any reasonable definition—surely not moderate in the sense that New Jersey Sen. Clifford Case would have recognized): They went for Rubio or Kasich.

And they were all stomped by the juggernaut of white backlash that is Trump. What about Trump’s appeal to the victims of deindustrialization and stagnant wages? Please.

The man has led consistently national polls of GOP voters from the moment he entered the race last summer and promised to build a wall to keep out the browns. As the Republican party recovers from the looming disaster that is The Trump-an Show, some will ask if the old coalition can be rebuilt.

I ask: Why would you even want to?

Source: Trump’s Bankrupt GOP

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So to catalog my wrongness: I overestimated the real commitment of both factions’ leaders to their stated principles and favored policies. (Even though I didn’t agree with many of those policies myself, I assumed from the party’s longstanding resistance to change that someone did!) I overestimated their ability to put those principles ahead of personal resentments. And yes, since to acquiesce to Donald Trump as the Republican nominee is to gamble recklessly with the party’s responsibilities to the republic, I overestimated their basic sense of honor.

Of course none of this means that the surrendering Republicans’ calculations are all wrong. It is possible that a dishonorable, cowardly, unprincipled course will yield the result that many in both G.O.P. factions clearly crave: Trump defeated in the general election, his ideas left without a champion, and then a reversion to the party’s status quo ante, to the comforts of a tactically narrow “wacko birds versus RINOs” family feud.

But then again it’s possible that the establishment and the Tea Party are more like Byzantium and Sassanid Persia in the seventh century A.D., and Trumpism is the Arab-Muslim invasion that put an end to their long-running rivalry, destroyed the Sassanid Dynasty outright, and ushered in a very different age.

Source: The Party Surrenders - The New York Times

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Trump — who himself rescinded previous pledges to support the eventual Republican nominee —slammed Bush for backing away from the pledge.

“Jeb Bush dishonored his pledge, I mean he dishonored his pledge,” Trump said on the Mike Gallagher Show. “He signed a pledge, and, if you remember, they all wanted me to sign it, so I signed it. But that pledge is a guarantee, there’s no outs. It doesn’t say, ‘subject to me liking Donald Trump or anything.’”

“You know, Jeb Bush spent $12 million in negative ads, on me and then after he spent it I started hitting him very hard,” Trump said. “And then they said Trump was mean, but I wasn’t mean.”

Trump said Bush’s ads about him weren’t even true.

“I had a right to do what I did,” said Trump. “And it was tough and he left, and then he said he’s not gonna endorse me? I said, ‘well, then you violated your pledge.’ And I think he said, well he doesn’t care. Well, that’s not a man of honor, when you violate your pledge.

Source: Donald Trump: Jeb Bush Is "Not A Man Of Honor" For Refusing To Back Me - BuzzFeed News

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The final lesson of the 1972 campaign and what followed it is that arguments matter. The Jackson Democrats had views: strong arguments about American foreign policy and strong critiques of McGovern and for that matter the détente policies the Republicans were following in those years. We argued and argued, and when we saw Ronald Reagan making some of the same arguments we jumped on his bandwagon. Republicans who oppose Trump need to keep making the arguments that candidates like Rubio and Cruz and Bush made this year unsuccessfully. It didn't work this time but it can work next time, when voters see Trump collapse—and when they see an increasingly dangerous world and a Clinton administration wedded to a bloated federal government as the solution to every problem. Next time, in 2020, we'll have had 12 years of Obama and Clinton, Hillary will be in her mid-seventies, Trump will be gone, and a new generation of Republican leaders like Rubio and Cruz and Ryan and Cotton and Haley and Sasse will still be in their forties.

Source: When You Can't Stand Your Candidate | The Weekly Standard

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Several former curators said that as the trending news algorithm improved, there were fewer instances of stories being injected. They also said that the trending news process was constantly being changed, so there’s no way to know exactly how the module is run now. But the revelations undermine any presumption of Facebook as a neutral pipeline for news, or the trending news module as an algorithmically-driven list of what people are actually talking about.

Rather, Facebook’s efforts to play the news game reveal the company to be much like the news outlets it is rapidly driving toward irrelevancy: a select group of professionals with vaguely center-left sensibilities. It just happens to be one that poses as a neutral reflection of the vox populi, has the power to influence what billions of users see, and openly discusses whether it should use that power to influence presidential elections.

“It wasn’t trending news at all,” said the former curator who logged conservative news omissions. “It was an opinion.”

Source: Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News

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Week of May 2 to May 8

Trump’s nomination does fly in the face of conservative dogma on some issues. But Trump also reflects the triumph of the curdled rage of the modern Republican Party. All of the constituencies of the old Republican Party that may have stopped Trump in the primaries — racial minorities, socially moderate women, college-educated whites — have been driven out by a party that has lurched right. Tax cuts for the rich, deregulating Wall Street, and cuts to retirement programs have no natural constituency, so Republicans have been left with the only voters who would be willing to support them: culturally conservative whites. Republicans aghast at Trump’s wild abuse of the truth had no authority to which they could turn, having long ago instructed their supporters to ignore the mainstream media.

Trump’s victory was an object lesson in the stifling failure of intra-Republican discourse. There are, of course, some intellectuals on the right who try to moderate their party’s excesses. But the moral logic of movement thought places them at a hopeless disadvantage. The moderates behave like uninvited guests, politely beseeching their hosts to reconsider their views, wrapping any criticisms in elaborate expressions of sympathy, or retreating to morbid irony. The radicals shout, the moderates whisper. The rules of conservative discourse dictated that the only valid attacks against Trump could come from the right, but the party had moved so far right that his heresies — previous support for universal health care, endorsement of higher taxes on the rich, a general lack of enthusiasm for libertarian anti-government abstractions — pulled no weight with their voters. Trump’s nomination was the meltdown of the Republican elite within their own ideological hothouse.

Source: The Trump Meltdown and the Democrats’ Future -- NYMag

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...[F]ar more than Obama or Hillary or George W. Bush, Trump is actively campaigning as a Caesarist, making his contempt for constitutional norms and political niceties a selling point. And given his mix of proud ignorance and immense self-regard, there is no reason to believe that any of this is just an act.

Trump would not be an American Mussolini; even our sclerotic institutions would resist him more effectively than that. But he could test them as no modern president has tested them before — and with them, the health of our economy, the civil peace of our society and the stability of an increasingly perilous world.

In sum: It would be possible to justify support for Trump if he merely promised a period of chaos for conservatism. But to support Trump for the presidency is to invite chaos upon the republic and the world. No policy goal, no court appointment, can justify such recklessness.

Source: The Conservative Case Against Trump - NYTimes.com

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Throughout the book, Leeman maintains that the consensus between Protestant and Enlightenment thought has produced a confusion that is now eroding the very religious liberty the American founders sought to protect. As the culture wars escalate, so does the possibility the constitutional order established to prohibit religious persecution will actually be used against religious people whose theological beliefs lie outside a rapidly expanding cultural consensus.

Herein lies the looming crisis. Sooner or later the cultural consensus will not hold, and decisions must be made. Those decisions (also known as laws) will directly impact and curtail religious belief and expression in the nation. Not naïve to the coming crisis, Leeman believes the answer will not be to simply return “to the Founders or to Locke as a solution to the culture wars.”

Rather, he believes the United States is seeing the fulfillment of the prediction made by George Washington and John Adams of what would happen “should their philosophy of government be inhabited by an unreligious and unvirtuous people.” Why? Because “churches do not need to take up arms against the state in order to pose a threat to the state; they only need to oppose the gods upon which a nation’s political and economic institutions depend.” And oppose them they do.

Source: How Local Churches Anger The God Of Government

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...[T]he people wanted a larger-than-life candidate, and Trump is accustomed to living large. After months of pundits and politicos arguing about electoral lanes, it turned out that the “champion” lane was the only one that mattered, and Trump was the only person in it.There is no point in denying that this is a calamity. Damage control will be the primary theme of the next six months and will continue long after that. To many of us, it seemed that the conservative movement was starting to ripen into something promising, with a good harvest visible over the next horizon. Now, that promising yield has been blighted by an early frost, and it is unclear what, if anything, can be saved.

If there is a way forward, it will require us to broaden our political palate. We must recognize that our good-value promises are inadequate to the present moment. At this time, voters demand more than filled potholes and low taxes. We must work to articulate a more comprehensive vision, and look for heroes who can help bring it to life. If we can do that, conservatism will again have some capacity to shape our society and culture, regardless of the size of the welfare state or the makeup of our courts.

Source: Donald Trump Voters Want a Champion | National Review

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If Rhodes and Obama really want to challenge the foreign policy establishment, I suggest they dig up the second inaugural address from George W. Bush. In 2005, he boldly proclaimed that it would no longer be U.S. policy to support dictatorships for the sake of stability, that his administration would support democratic movements all over the world. Bush never implemented that bold vision -- in part because the foreign policy establishment had turned on him over his Iraq war. Mandarins such as Baker and Hamilton, with the help of a young Ben Rhodes, did their best to leave Iraq to the mercies of Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Bush declined their advice at the time and surged troops. It would take the election of Barack Obama to put in place the establishment’s vision for the Middle East. We are now living with those consequences.

Source: Obama's Foreign Policy Guru Is the 'Blob' He Hates - Bloomberg View

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In the narrative that Rhodes shaped, the “story” of the Iran deal began in 2013, when a “moderate” faction inside the Iranian regime led by Hassan Rouhani beat regime “hard-liners” in an election and then began to pursue a policy of “openness,” which included a newfound willingness to negotiate the dismantling of its illicit nuclear-weapons program. The president set out the timeline himself in his speech announcing the nuclear deal on July 14, 2015: “Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not.” While the president’s statement was technically accurate — there had in fact been two years of formal negotiations leading up to the signing of the J.C.P.O.A. — it was also actively misleading, because the most meaningful part of the negotiations with Iran had begun in mid-2012, many months before Rouhani and the “moderate” camp were chosen in an election among candidates handpicked by Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The idea that there was a new reality in Iran was politically useful to the Obama administration. By obtaining broad public currency for the thought that there was a significant split in the regime, and that the administration was reaching out to moderate-minded Iranians who wanted peaceful relations with their neighbors and with America, Obama was able to evade what might have otherwise been a divisive but clarifying debate over the actual policy choices that his administration was making. By eliminating the fuss about Iran’s nuclear program, the administration hoped to eliminate a source of structural tension between the two countries, which would create the space for America to disentangle itself from its established system of alliances with countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and Turkey. With one bold move, the administration would effectively begin the process of a large-scale disengagement from the Middle East.

Source: The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru - The New York Times

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We will be hearing much more from this school of thought over the next months. Its voices will encourage us to feel doubt and disgust at democracy, and they will subtly flatter our elite, or would-be elite, ideas of historical responsibility. They will suggest that a little psychological introspection into the state of our own too self-satisfied souls is all we need to understand what has gone wrong. They will urge us to give up on a stronger democracy, and to rally behind the elite-driven, money-ridden, cynically pandering system we have now. They will say this is the lesson of philosophy and history: that elites must save democracy from itself.

They are right that democracy is cultural as well as political; but they have it backward when they forget that our democratic culture arises from a paradoxical combination: approximate civic and cultural equality combined with pervasive and acute economic inequality, hierarchy, and vulnerability. They are right when they say that “elites”—professionals, professors, journalists, economists, etc.—have the responsibility to fill their roles in ways that protect and promote democratic life; but they have it backward when they forget that the suasions of wealth, economic status, and neoliberal versions of political maturity do more to corrupt those roles than democratic permissiveness or self-indulgence.

Source: What Trump's Rise Means for Democracy | Dissent Magazine

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The Nazca are famous for their impressive lines carved into the Peruvian desert, but they also built an incredible system of aqueducts, some of which still function today. The system is covered in spiral openings, called puquios, but their function remained unclear – until now.

Rosa Lasaponara and a team from the Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis in Italy have discovered that the puquios’ corkscrew-shaped tunnels funnel wind into a system of underground canals that push the water where it needs to go. The team used satellite images to pinpoint the position of all the puquios across the Nazca region and then compared them to how water sources and settlements were distributed...

“The puquios were the most ambitious hydraulic project in the Nazca area and made water available for the whole year, not only for agriculture and irrigation but also for domestic needs,” Lasaponara told the BBC.

Source: An Ancient Peruvian Mystery Has Been Solved From Space | IFLScience

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...[W]ith a third candidate comes a spokesman for sane conservatism, a voice to repeat over and over again that Trump does not speak for conservatives and center-right voters of good conscience and sturdy principles. Without an actual candidate, whatever drivel Trump is peddling gets labeled as “Republican” or worse, “conservative.” A third candidate is designed to relegate Trump to the fringe, where he belongs.

A third candidate is also essential to help repair political discourse, which has sunk lower and become more vulgar and hateful than we ever imagined. The country as a whole badly needs someone to model respectful but forceful argumentation, to demand that candidates stick to the facts (since too many in the media won’t do their job), to demonstrate that dignity does not denote weakness and to call out rank bigotry, misogyny and cruelty. The character of the candidate is therefore as or more critical than his brand of conservatism or stance on specific issues. In fact, his or her presence would reassert that rhetoric and ideology are subservient to character, something that has eluded both Democrats and Republicans. Conservatism, if nothing else, must come to represent an approach to politics — rational, tolerant, well-measured and hopeful.

Source: It’s the beginning, not the end, of #NeverTrump - The Washington Post

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Finally, Trump proved that many professional True Conservatives, many of the same people who flayed RINOs and demanded purity throughout the Obama era, were actually just playing a convenient part. From Fox News’ 10 p.m. hour to talk radio to the ranks of lesser pundits, a long list of people who should have been all-in for Cruz on ideological grounds either flirted with Trump, affected neutrality or threw down their cloaks for the Donald to stomp over the nomination. Cruz thought he would have a movement behind him, but part of that movement was actually a racket, and Trumpistas were simply better marks.

Cruz will be back, no doubt. He’s young, he’s indefatigable, and he can claim — and will claim, on the 2020 hustings — that True Conservatism has as yet been left untried. But that will be a half-truth; it isn’t being tried this year because the Republican Party’s voters have rejected him and it, as they rejected another tour for Bushism when they declined to back Rubio and Jeb.

What remains, then, is Trumpism. Which is also, in its lurching, sometimes insightful, often wicked way, a theory of what kind of party the Republicans should become, and one that a plurality of Republicans have now actually voted to embrace.

Source: The Defeat of True Conservatism - NYTimes.com

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Most of America, including a significant minority of Republicans, have seen Trump’s candidacy exactly for the con it is. Trump for President is a category error. He is, as his rivals have described him, a charlatan, a con artist, a congenital liar, a man self-evidently unfit for office at any level, and especially the presidency. As George Will has argued, his unfitness is so manifest that it applies to anybody who considers him suitable for the office; a person is “unqualified for high office because he or she will think Trump is qualified.”

Even after those of us who initially dismissed Trump’s appeal came to terms with it, it seemed as though the anti-Trump wing of the party would at least put up a strong fight. It was only a few weeks ago that projections had Trump falling well short of the 1,237 delegates he would need to win a first-ballot vote. (In mid-April, Nate Silver, whose findings were typical, projected Trump finishing with around 1160.) Trump’s lead in California, the largest remaining source of delegates, was tenuous. Some semblance of order seemed likely to prevail. Even if that order took the form of the extremist Ted Cruz wrenching the nomination in some kind of chaotic scene, the Republican Party would still have wound up fulfilling the basic threshold duty of a functioning party: ensuring its presidential nomination had remained in the hands of a reasonably well-informed and indisputably sane person — not a giant, not a Lincoln, but at least one of the 10 or 20 million most qualified people in America, or at minimum, a certifiable non-sociopath.

But actual Republican voters have not seen things this way at all.

Source: Trump Has Won and the Republican Party Is Broken -- NYMag

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And now it’s America First time again—the inevitable outcome of the GOP’s descent into populism.

Mr. Cruz, who used to be fond of calling Mr. Trump “my friend Donald” when it seemed opportune, now presents himself as the only man standing between his nemesis and the nomination. But Mr. Cruz’s trashing of his fellow Republicans hastened the arrival of the ultimate party-crasher. Arsonists who set fire to their neighborhood run the risk of burning their own house down.

And then there is the GOP rank-and-file... The “white working classes” that are said to form the core of Mr. Trump’s support deserve better than to be patronized with references to their “anger.” They deserve to hear an argument about the disaster they are about to impose on their party, their country and their own economic interests.

Source: The GOP Gets What It Deserves - WSJ

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...[T]hose Democrats who are gleefully predicting a Clinton landslide in November need to both check their complacency and understand that the Trump question really isn’t a cause for partisan Schadenfreude anymore. It’s much more dangerous than that.

...[T]hose Republicans desperately trying to use the long-standing rules of their own nominating process to thwart this monster deserve our passionate support, not our disdain. This is not the moment to remind them that they partly brought this on themselves. This is a moment to offer solidarity, especially as the odds are increasingly stacked against them.

...And if they fail in Indiana or Cleveland, as they likely will, they need, quite simply, to disown their party’s candidate. They should resist any temptation to loyally back the nominee or to sit this election out. They must take the fight to Trump at every opportunity, unite with Democrats and Independents against him, and be prepared to sacrifice one election in order to save their party and their country.

For Trump is not just a wacky politician of the far right, or a riveting television spectacle, or a Twitter phenom and bizarre working-class hero. He is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others. In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such.

Source: America Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny -- NYMag

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For Edmund Randolph, the evils from which the new country was suffering had originated in the "turbulence and follies of democracy." Regularly, Elbridge Gerry spoke of democracy as "the worst of all political evils," and Roger Sherman hoped that "the people . . . have as little to do as may be about the government." Hamilton, charging that the "turbulent and changing" masses "seldom judge or determine right," fervently sought a permanent authority to "check the imprudence of democracy." For Hamilton, the American People represented a "great beast."

George Washington (remember him?) soberly urged the delegates not to produce any document, merely “to please the people."

Today, as America prepares to vote again in November, we neglect that the country's creators had displayed an immutable distrust of democratic governance. With literally no more than a half-dozen exceptions, the men of the Philadelphia Convention were scions of wealth and privilege. For them, any expectations of serious thought by the general population would have been simply unfathomable.

Source: America Becomes What Its Founders Feared | The National Interest

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AprilWeek of April 25 to May 1

‘But death lay from the beginning in the background of Hamlet’s mind. The sands of time do not content him. In his melancholy and weakness, his worry, his disgust at all the affairs of life, we sense from the start that in all his terrible surroundings he is a lost man, almost consumed by inner disgust before death comes to him from outside.’ (6)

Hamlet is a lost man. He is the wrong man. He should never have been commanded by the ghost to avenge his murder. His disgust with the world induces not action but acedia, a slothful lethargy. Hamlet just lacks the energy. As Hegel writes:

‘His noble soul was not made for this kind of energetic activity; and, full of disgust with the world and life, what with decision, proof, arrangements for carrying out his resolve, and being bandied from pillar to post, he eventually perishes owing to his own hesitation and a complication of external circumstances.’ (7)

It is our contention that what is caught sight of by Hegel here is a Hamlet Doctrine that turns on the corrosive dialectic of knowledge and action, where the former disables the latter and insight into the truth induces a disgust with existence. He cannot, or will not, imagine anything more in the gap that opens up. Rubbernecking the chaos and wreckage of the world that surround him while chattering and punning endlessly, Hamlet finally finds himself fatally struck and strikes out impetuously, asking Horatio to sing him a lullaby. What is so heroic about Hamlet’s disgust? Do we even like him?

Source: Hegel on Hamlet | Books & Essays | spiked

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A 2008 interview Prince gave to The New Yorker suggests this “clean, simple approach” left the singer a relatively strict social conservative who held the Bible as authoritative.

“So here’s how it is: you’ve got the Republicans, and basically they want to live according to this,” he told the magazine, pointing to a Bible. He went on:

But there’s the problem of interpretation, and you’ve got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesn’t. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you’ve got blue, you’ve got the Democrats, and they’re, like, “You can do whatever you want.” Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right.

He would repeat the point later in the interview.

When asked about his perspective on social issues — gay marriage, abortion — Prince tapped his Bible and said, ‘God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out,’” adding, “He was, like, ‘Enough.’”

As recently as last year, engineer and producer Joshua Welton told Entertainment Weekly that Prince was leading a “God-focused” life at his Paisley Park home and studio complex. Welton recalled when they met, the two “just stood in the kitchen and talked about Scripture for two hours.”

Source: Prince's Life of Faith | The Stream

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